Category Archives: Monthly Roundups

May ’20 Roundup (and the “Oh My God I Have So Much Writing to Do” Hiatus)

Emiya Menu (13)

In the words of one of the great commentators of our times, “everything happens so much”. I hate to do it, but between research, thesis writing, Exciting Career Stuff, and, well… [gestures to the world at large] my queue of blog articles has run dry, and I think it’s sensible that I take a break and come back fresh with my brain switched on, rather than trying to fill the space with writing that may not be that good. The plan at current is to take June off and return in July, but we shall see how things pan out. I will, of course, still be saying words into the void over on Twitter.

Stay safe out there, everyone, and take care of yourselves and of each other. I know I sign off with some variation of that every time, but it feels more pressing than ever.

On the blog this month

Fate, a Retelling About Retellings (and Stickin’ It To the System) – a dive into metaphor, magic, and metallurgy starring Fate/Stay Night‘s protagonist Shirou, and how his personal arc spearheads a story about disrupting old patterns and upending harmful traditions.

The Power of Magic and Whimsy in Queer Stories – a musing on the importance of quieter, more personal fantasy tales that let their queer protagonists just be, starring the wonderful Euphoria Kids.

Bonus academia!

Opalised Storytelling: A Review of A Fixed Place: The Long and Short of Story – TEXT reached out to me to review a new collection of poetry and short stories! It’s a little different from what I usually read, but I enjoyed it, and I think I pulled together and made it sound like I knew what I was talking about in the paper.

Bonus announcements!

I’m now officially listed as a contributions editor for AniFem! The site has been an amazing place to work with for the past three years (!) and I’m very much looking forward to being part of the moving wheels behind the scenes.

Web content

Yet another great digital authors’ panel, this one about the blending of magic and queer community in YA fantasy – featuring many books I really want to read!

Dom’s Lost in Adaptation series continues to be a delight, this time providing a charming and thoughtful dive into the 1996 Pride and Prejudice miniseries (with, as always, adequate amounts of costume skits alongside the literary analysis).

Trans Representation in YA Fiction is Changing, But How Much? – stats, author interviews, and personal stories build a picture of the current state of trans rep in young adult novels.

Allegory, Allegorier, Allegoriest: Visual Storytelling and Empathy in Revolutionary Girl Utena – Utena is full of notoriously bizarre spectacle, but the core of the stylistic narrative is empathy and love, and going in/rewatching with that in mind will give you a keener eye for the metaphors at play.

Joan of Arc, for Fascists and Feminists – good ol’ Jeanne d’Arc is one of the most fascinating cases, I think, of a historical character that’s consistently reinterpreted for the needs of the present (from medieval propaganda to 21st century mobile games), and this piece touches on the use of her image for two very different political perspectives.

How The Matrix Universalized a Trans Experience – and Helped Me Accept My Own – a post from last year looking at the trans themes woven into the first Matrix movie, always clear but only more prescient after the directors both came out.

The Rise of Magical Realism in Young Adult Fiction – how the hard-to-classify-but-always-very-cool genre of magical realism is appearing more and more in YA, and why those motifs of liminality and strangeness-yet-familiarity might uniquely suit that demographic.

In Video Game Stories, It’s Often Sidequests That Are the Most Meaningful – those quirky little character-focused missions where you step off the path of your Heroic Destiny to take a pause and help people have a lot of emotional reward, to the player and to the overall story.

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And here, for the first time in absolutely ages, is a podcast rec! You’re Dead To Me is a BBC-run (and crisply British) history show in which a historian and a comedian take a moderated journey together through a specialist topic, sometimes focused on an individual like Eleanor of Aquitaine, sometimes looking at a broader concept like The Ancient Olympics. Very fun and informative, with a nice touch of that Horrible Histories energy (the host is one of their writers, after all).

Everyone stay safe (as always, but with even more gusto than usual) and I’ll see you all in a while!

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404 Witty Title Not Found: April ’20 Roundup

absolutely nothing

So here we are, another month into opening updates and emails with “I hope everyone is doing okay in these strange times…” Do I still hope everyone is doing okay? Of course. Have the times gotten less strange? It’s difficult to say. I’d like to say I’m better anchored in this new social distancing set up: everyone around me is safe and well, some financial worries have been smoothed out (for now at least), and my productivity is back on track after a couple of weeks of an emotion I want to call bluuuuuuuh. I do keep getting into “wait, is it Wednesday?” conversations, but that happened before working from home too, because time is fake, so maybe that’s okay.

It’s raining, and it’s cosy inside. I’m writing words and making things. My cat is doing a really good impression of a loaf of banana bread on the windowsill, and I can hear little “wahoo!” sound effects from downstairs while my partner catches fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

On the blog:

Creativity, Discipline, and Eizouken (or: Everyone Needs a Kanamori in Their Life) – a reflection on the creative process (feat. some ruminations on my own PhD) and how important Sitting Down and Doing The Work actually is to it, and why that makes me appreciate Kanamori so much.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Heroes, Heartbreak, and Heists (in Space!) – reviews and recommendations of Not Your SidekickThe Disasters, and We Used to Be Friends, all of which made my heart happy.

The Trickster in Popular Culture – Presentation Edition! – the long-overdue recording of a presentation I gave in November 2019, bringing together much of my Trickster research and somehow managing to talk about how cool Villanelle is for a good chunk of an academic paper.

Save a Horse, (Do Not) Ride (This Particular) Cowboy: An Ace Reading of Arthur Morgan – a look at Red Dead 2’s main character through an ace lens, seeing what evidence stacks up, what the themes of the story gain from this, and why all that’s kinda cool.

Webzone:

The Cats movie is wonderful simply because T.S. Eliot, with all his hangups and political ideologies, would have hated it.

The Cats movie is wonderful because it’s ultimately a tale of celebrity hubris, money-grubbing, disrespect for the musical as a medium, and may well herald the end of Oscar-bait musical adaptations.

A panel on aro/ace representation in YA, starring some authors I’ve reviewed and some I’m currently reading, all with great things to say about the complex spectrum of sexuality and identity, what’s considered “queer enough”, and the joys of speculative fiction for escaping and having adventures.

Another digital panel, this one about queer rom-coms – the best and cheesiest tropes, the balance of authenticity and escapist cuteness, and the many intersections of identity that publishing can and should explore.

I think at this point anyone who’s spent any amount of time in The Fan Internet has at least heard whispers of the long-lost legend of MsScribe: the “gold standard of fandom drama”, to quote this very video, and a terrifying and beautifully bonkers encapsulation of early ’00s internet culture. Here the tale is laid out in its (almost) full glory (for the fullest glory, of course, read the original exposé). It’s a whole journey. Do take it with me.

So I know this is last month’s episode, but I only watched it the other day and it’s excellent. Oliver Philosophy Tube Thorn invites us to ask, what is the “purpose” of art? What snares lie in the delicate space between authorial vision and “meeting audience expectations”? And what does fan entitlement look like from someone who’s been on the receiving end of it?

In/Spectre – The Birth of a Modern Ghost – an intriguing look at the myth-making process, and how stories can change, evolve, and “become real” through people’s dedication to them, through the lens of In/Spectre‘s living legend of a final villain.

What We Remake – an examination of what modern remakes keep to remain nostalgic, what they have to change to stay relevant, and the tense space in between. How does a culture of remakes enforce an idea of “the canon”? What makes a good remake? The answer will be a little different depending on who you ask.

30 LGBTQ YA Books You’ll Absolutely Want to Pick Up This Spring– in which Dahlia Adler continues to keep me fed when it comes to publishing info and book recommendations.

Feiwel Series to Put New Faces and Spins on Classics – an announcement of an upcoming series of retellings of classic novels that directly tackles the idea of “universal stories” and the very white, male canon. The series will include a Treasure Island reimagining by C.B. Lee (yeah, I was just talking about her!) set in the South China Sea and featuring some queer adventures and a pirate queen or two; as well as other new takes that sound intriguing.

“We’re Everywhere”: Author L.C. Rosen on Platontic Queer Relationships – L.C. Rosen (who you may notice on the rom-com panel above) writes about the importance of writing queer characters being friends with each other as well as ending up in romances with each other.

And it was a new anime season (again! The horrifying passage of time!!) so be sure to check out the reviews! 

And that wraps us up for April. See you all soon, and take care!

Oh! And a massive thank you, too, to the couple of people who dropped a tip into my coffee account last month. I appreciate the hell out of it, and you, and everyone who comes back and consistently reads this little corner of the internet.

 

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Strange Times: March ’20 Roundup

villanelle bein silly

So… bit of an odd era to be living in, isn’t it?

I don’t have too much to report, really, save to assure everyone that I’m safe and well (albeit a bit frustrated… as someone living in a bushfire-affected area, I kind of find myself asking “hey, didn’t we just have a weird tense month where we had to stay inside all the time, constantly check the news, and exist in a weird limbo state of worry?”). I hope everyone reading this is doing the same, and doing what they can to take care of each other.

My household’s gone through some financial changes due the pandemic’s effects on the workforce, and while it’s not too serious right now, I figure it’s as good a time as any to throw up a link to my Ko-Fi page. If you enjoy what I do here, and you can toss me even a small coin, it means the world. I’m going to keep on writing about writing, and hopefully that brings at least a little bit of respite for someone in these weird times ~

On the blog:

A Little Bit Genghis Khan: The Enemies as Lovers Appeal of Killing Eve – in which Eve and Villanelle’s tangled up, sexual-tension-filled tale gives us the good old enemies-to-lovers in an original story, whereas this trope is most often found in fan spaces.

I Can’t Believe I Care This Much About Marvel Again (A Review of Loki: Where Mischief Lies) – in which the queer Loki novel is good, like really good, and I am so bamboozled that I write a whole post about it.

Webzone:

A brief rundown of the evolution of fanfic in the popular consciousness – where did it begin? How has the perception of it shifted over time and with the help of a few vocal authors? And why in the hell are there so many RPFs?

And finally, this bonkers exploration into an “advice” show, which aired on a channel so manly its promotional material is just a montage of bullets firing, motorcycles revving, and water dripping down cleavage. Is this a parody of itself? Were straight bros from the early 2000s okay? Kurtis Conner investigates (content warning for discussions of explosive misogyny, toilet humour, sexual humour, and rampant alcohol consumption). If I had to witness this madness, so do you.

Finding Asexuality in the Archives – an investigation dismissing the dismissive views to asexuality as “the internet orientation” by revealing the history of the identity and movement long before the ‘net even existed.

Escapist Young Adult Novels Offer a Breath of Fresh Air in the Current Political Climate – serious stories that dig deep into contemporary issues are important, but equally valuable are genre stories that provide a happy break from the “compassion fatigue” affecting young people in a turbulent world.

Nothing But Respect for Our New Anime Queen, Eizouken‘s Sayaka Kanamori – Kanamori good: an analysis.

Beyond Cinderella: Exploring Agency Through Domestic Fantasy – a look at lower-stakes fantasy that places its focus not on grand quests and physical power, but keeps its emphasis closer to home and celebrates different kinds of strength in the process.

Coronavirus is Keeping Friends Apart, but Games Like Animal Crossing and D&D are Bringing Them Back Together – in this hell world, at least we have increasingly creative methods of reaching one another online!

Plus, the latest AniFem watchalong is ToraDora! which has been very fun to listen along to.

I know I say this every time, but now it’s more important than ever: take care out there, and take care of each other. I’ll see you guys soon.

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Easy Breezy: February ’20 Roundup

Eizouken (42)

“I have two posts about Eizouken coming up, on two different sites!” I said to myself earlier this month. “Wouldn’t it be funny if they came out back to back?”

Lo and behold…

On the blog:

Keep Your Hands off Eizouken: A Passion Project about Passion Projects – in which I get a bit sappy about the love with which this anime-about-anime celebrates creativity and collaboration.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Soccer, Steampunk, and Survival Horror – in which the mini-reviews kick off for 2020, with Highway Bodies, Running with Lions, and Tarnished Are the Stars.

On Anime Feminist

The Gloriously Goofy, Geeky Girls of Keep Your Hands Off Eizkouken! – “this show is good – feminist analysis edition”. In which I dig into exactly what’s so delightful (and a bit subversive) about the antics and aesthetics of the main characters, and how they’re allowed to be cartoony, zany, and passionate.

Enter the Web Zone

Drew Gooden (yeah, the guy of  “road work ahead? Uh, I sure hope it does!” fame – he’s been pretty consistently funny since then, too!) talks the benefits of letting a beloved show end, rather than stretching it out until it’s no longer recognisable as the show you thought you wanted to watch forever.

The story of Jo March and her sisters is one of many classics that we keep returning to, and this video looks at the major film adaptations to see what new spins we’ve put on the narrative in each era.

Reclaiming the Witch Through Magical Girls– the cute witch is almost a ubiquitous character/trope/aesthetic, but this wasn’t always the case, and its resurgence and reframing across media history is something to talk about.

Season of the Witch: The Rise of Queer Magic in YA SFF – continuing with our (unexpected, but I’ll roll with it) theme of modern witchy media, this piece looks at the recurring theme of magical queer characters in YA… and how exciting it is that there’s now so much queer YA that we can identify trends within it!

The New Wave of Fantasy: How Millennial Authors are Changing the Genre – interviews with four young fantasy authors (Tori Adeyemi, Ryan La Sala, Adalyn Grace, and Hafsah Faizal) currently making a splash by bringing their own diverse spin to it.

Yuri is For Everyone: An Analysis of Yuri Demographics and Readership – yuri is just made by straight dudes for straight dudes, right? Not right! The Holy Mother of Yuri herself goes through the history of the genre and its authors and publication spaces, mapping its development and proving that yuri really is for everyone.

Tea Leaves and Dog Ears’ A Discovery of Witches recaps – the blogger who so entertained me with their “I read this goofy shit so you don’t have to” recaps and reviews of the Grey novels has returned with some witchy, vampire-y fiction, and I’m looking forward to following along.

Be Gay Do Crimes: The Mystery Story Model of Implicit Queer Storytelling – AniGay returns to dig into the history and process of “hunting for clues”, Poirot style, as a means of finding queer stories where they might not be overtly visible.

How Stars Align Offers a Fresh Narrative Model for LGBTQ+ Characters – an analysis of Yuu’s arc and how it covers their identity with nuance, and moves beyond the traditional focus on bullying, homophibia, and struggle, in favour of a queer narrative that’s allowed to simply exist nested in a greater story.

As a bonus: I’ve recently discovered the soundtrack to SIX, a pop musical about the wives of Henry VIII, and I can’t stop listening to it. Maybe it’s not the most in-depth or accurate thing ever, but goddamn does it have some bops in it (and some great puns – I can’t decide on my favourite, but “live in consort” and “ladies, let’s get in reformation” are solid contenders):

And that’s all for now – take care everyone!

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Summertime Weirdness: January ’20 Roundup

EMAILS after hours

One weekend in early January, my friends and I scheduled tickets to Cats. I wish I could tell you which was more surreal: the dizzying, floaty, uncanny valley CGI depicting sleek furry bodies with conspicuously humanoid faces, hands, and feet (yep, we got the “everyone still has human hands” cut), or the haze of bushfire smoke (blowing in from the fires on the coast and national parks of New South Wales) filling the mall and the orange-tinged sky looming overhead, making it impossible to tell what time of day it was.

We were safe from the devastating fires (and still are, fingers crossed – things seemed to have calmed down overall with changing weather conditions and a lot of hard work) but were feeling their aftereffects billow around us. And, like many locals, we had taken refuge in an air-conditioned building, to take distraction from the stress of everything for a couple of hours… with dancing cats with human hands, who sometimes wore shoes and looked way more naked than if they’d been wearing nothing at all. How’d they manage that? Why was Rebel Wilson’s character like that? Why did Judi Dench stare directly into my soul in the final song?? Who was I before this film??

It would be poetic to say that this nightmarish weirdness, survived and shared with friends and loved ones, has set the tone for 2020, but the truth is I really hope things improve. The weather and the stories have been better since, so as always I’m surging forward with optimism.

On the blog:

A Big Ol’ Pile of Book Recommendations (2019) – my favourite things I read last year, through manga, novels, and nonfiction!

A Big Ol’ Pile of Anime Recommendations (2019) – my favourite series I watched last year, through fantasy, coming-of-age stories, and rom-coms!

Cool web content:

A conversation about video game literacy, and how we learn the quirks and instincts of games – and how something that seems so natural to people with a lot of practice can be as baffling as, well, learning a new form of literacy (a study I find particularly funny given that I’ve recently started trying to play Skyrim and have a lot of the same grievances as the new player in this video. But I’m having fun and learning!!).

My fam and I recently watched the new Netflix/BBC “adaptation” of Dracula, penned by our very favourite screen team Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss. It was certainly an experience, and it was certainly time to rewatch one of our favourite video essays afterwards.

The New Little Women Makes Space for Jo’s Queerness – the release of a new adaptation of the iconic novel has introduced me to approximately 150 years of shipping discourse, and, most interesting among it, many readers who hold the idea of Jo March Not Being Heterosexual close to their heart. This article covers nicely how the movie’s tweaking of the original ending leaves room for that interpretation to flourish, and pays homage to Louisa May Alcott along the way.

Hoshiai no Sora/Stars Align: A Story About Corporate Betrayal, but Also a Lot More – a rundown of what exactly happened with the production of Stars Align, as well as a celebration of the series’ many strengths and unique efforts in terms of storytelling and animation.

“Why would I close the door to a queer person?” LGBTQ Fantasy Comes of Age – a great piece about the increasing rise of queer speculative fiction (particularly fiction that imagines worlds where being queer Just Isn’t a Big Deal), with interviews from authors who are part of the movement.

How Eizouken Embraces the Messy Thrill of Storytelling!Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! is all about making art, and this piece looks at the creative process within the creative process and what makes it so authentic and fun. (I’m loving this show, by the way – do expect quite a number of words about it from me soon)

American Dirt is a Problem. So What’s the Solution? – a neat rundown of the conversation surrounding a recent “white lady writes racial stereotypes, earns squillions from publishing industry” controversy, and how it’s a pertinent example of how we should systematically give writers of colour the opportunity to tell their own stories rather than presuming the default “mainstream” audience is white and uninterested.

Disability Tropes to Watch Out For – a thread detailing a lot of the harmful narrative conventions that surround disabled characters, often penned and approved by abled writers.

And of course, once again, it was premiere review season!What are you guys looking forward to watching?

Bonus: this is the new best Twitter account

Take care everyone, in these strange and trying times, and I’ll see you again soon!

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Honk: December ’19 Roundup

goose loose

Here lies the last roundup of the year, which means it’s also the last roundup of the decade! At time of writing, I’m in the exhausted, cheese-filled haze that you get between Christmas and New Year’s, so I won’t turn this into a great introspective piece. But I will say that 2019 was A Lot, as I’m sure it was for a lot of people. It’s been a big year for personal growth and self-confidence, as well as career stuff: I’m now officially A Published Scholar, with two papers out; I travelled to two conferences and presented at both; I’ve been teaching all year; and I restructured (read: wrangled) the creative component of my creative research so it’s much less daunting. I suffered a wee bit of burnout in the middle of the year. I wrote a whole bunch of fiction that I wasn’t supposed to be writing, but was a whole lot of fun (and said to myself, hey, that’s still productive, even if it’s not the project I have real deadlines for…). I read a bunch. I’m going to see Cats this weekend and I’m ready to ring in the new year with friends and loved ones among art and chaos. All in all, it’s been wild, but it’s been good… and really that’s all you can ask for, isn’t it?

On the blog:

Stars Align, a Sincere “Underdog” Story – in which a little anime about an ailing middle school tennis team manages to legitimately tell a heartfelt story of marginalisation and hardship, when other YA-aimed properties can often miss the mark.

The Trickster Archetype in Popular Culture, Part Four: The Trickster is YOU! – these posts are back, this time feat. everyone’s favourite troublemaking waterbird!

Bonus: my favourite posts from 2019

Assassins, Outlaws, and Narratives of Autonomy and Vulnerability 

Bloom Into You (and Me), a Story About How Representation is Important

Headcanons, Queer Readings, and the Art of “Reading Too Much Into Things”

Land of the Lustrous as a Story About Burnout

Love and Also Monsters: The Emotional Priorities of Type-Moon’s Fantasy

Not “Just a Phase”: How Bloom Into You Challenges Common Yuri Tropes

Rewriting the Script: Revue Starlight‘s Rejection of Tragic Queer Tropes

And a shoutout too to all the queer YA mini-reviews, which were fun to write and hopefully helped someone out there find something that was fun to read, too! There will be more to come!

Cool web content:

You know me, I love some social history – and I’m a bit of a sap, so sometimes you will catch me loving weddings as well. Safiya’s fashion history videos are always well-researched, well-rounded, and very fun, and in this one she returns to the field with a special focus on the evolution of the wedding dress from the 1890s to the 1980s (what we learn: time is a circle, clothes can tell us so much about the everyday life of a past era, and wigs are a powerful ally).

As 2020 approaches, “x of the decade” articles abound – Polygon’s games of the decade roundup is particularly funny and charming.

“But why is Riverdale‘s writing so cringey?” Why indeed? This user attempts to break down the issues with the show’s bizarre plots, over-the-top dialogue, and the way it sassily acknowledges its own use of cliche while still clinging to them.

The Marvel Juggernaut: With Great Power Comes Zero Responsibility – an exploration of Disney-Marvel’s monstrous, all-consuming presence in the film industry, and how they’re squeezing out creative risk-taking as well as moves towards diversity; using a lot of the conservative choices from Endgame as demonstration.

Steven Universe Future is Doing Something TV Shows Just Don’t Do – a look at how SU’s continuation takes the time to address the messy, personal aftermath of the series’ big conflict and climax, where most other shows – particularly big-stakes sci-fi and fantasy ones – finish after the final battle and wrap things up swiftly (and sometimes haphazardly).

LGBTQIAP YA 2020 Preview: January – June – a handy-dandy roundup of forthcoming queer YA releases! There are so many!! Look forward to seeing mini-reviews of some of these in future, because I’m certainly excited to read them.

The Decade Fandom Went Corporate – how the way fans are seen by big companies has shifted over the past ten years-ish, and how (certain kinds of) fandom is increasingly being monetised.

Round and Round Like Dancing Laundry – Carole & Tuesday – how the space-musical uses its music and lyrics to convey characterisation and emotion, even if those lyrics aren’t the most profound things in the universe.

Carole & Tuesday and Bad Representation – a rundown of aforementioned space-musical’s failings when it comes to queer rep, despite appearing diverse – particularly how it makes its LGBTQ+ characters villains in situations where, in reality, they’re more often victims.

#100 Days of Yuri – a bountiful pile of recommendations from the blog Yuri Mother, collated nicely in one hashtag.

Review: Sexiled! My Sexist Party Leader Kicked Me Out So I Teamed Up With a Mythical Sorceress! – exactly what the title implies, focusing on how the novel uses the “power fantasy” structure of its genre to tackle very real issues, giving it a lot more heart and heft than a lot of “teen boy goes on adventure and gets big sword” light novels.

Anime Feminist’s Top 25 Anime of the Decade – a definitive set of recommendations from the team… and some extra, personal favourites that didn’t quite make the list, too.

And so we roll on into 2020. This year, we’re making art, taking care of each other, and making sure we get enough sleep. Let’s make it happen, gang!

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Papers, Please: November ’19 Roundup

Carole and Tuesday (2)

At the very real risk of repeating myself, it’s been a busy month (I’m feeling a little like Carole in that image up there). But a productive and rewarding one! I failed miserably at my attempt to do a pseudo NaNoWriMo, but I did get all my grading done… finished writing a presentation on Tricksters… travelled to a conference and presented said paper to positive reception… and hey, I had some great conversations about the creative project I’d intended to add to every day, it just didn’t grow as many new words as I wanted it to. But there’s still time. NaNo was definitely invented in a timezone where November isn’t the end-of-year crunch time.

Oh, and I entered something akin to a berserk state and bought far too much manga/YA at a giant bookstore. That’s productive and creative, right?

On the blog:

Personal Space: Carole & Tuesday and the Charm of Quiet, Personal Sci-Fi – a “please watch Carole & Tuesday” post focussing on how the show tells a very personal, grounded story in a futuristic sci-fi setting.

Headcanons, Queer Readings, and the Art of “Reading Too Much Into Things” – a look at the blend of fandom and academia that is the “queer reading”, which could just be a fancy word for a headcanon (and why they’re good!)

In RoundTable

Let’s Talk About Love, Tash Hearts Tolstoy, and the Asexual Coming-of-Age Story – academic publication number two, focusing on ace representation in the media and how these two books break free from the stereotypes and misconceptions that have historically defined depictions of asexuality in pop culture. Extremely proud of my work on this and how it turned out – and it’s free to read online!

Around the web:

Have I finished having thoughts and feelings about Life is Strange? No. In all likelihood I will be 90 and living in my robot body and still be having thoughts and feelings about Life is Strange. So here is a video essay about Life is Strange that explores how the game actually inhabits two different genres and how the different endings uniquely suit each of them.

Nonconforming in the ’90s: How Pokemon‘s Gender Variance Caught the Heart of a Generation – a great in-depth piece from Dee about the diverse gender roles, upending of gender stereotypes, and representation of gender nonconforming characters in the Pokemon anime, and how this was impactful not only personally but culturally.

Queer Eye: We’re In Japan! Gets it Right – a review of the recent Queer Eye special that sees the Fab Five working their reality TV magic in Tokyo, and how it manages to avoid a lot of the orientalist and “weird Japan” stereotypes that American travel shows often fall into (also, highly recommend the series – made me cry like a goof, especially the first and second episodes).

The Middle Ages Have Been Misused by the Far-Right: Here’s Why it’s So Important to Get Medieval History Right – a rundown of some of the ways popular conceptions of “the middle ages” have been misinterpreted, misused, and appropriated for the support of violent and conservative arguments, and why it’s important that people in different disciplines talk to each other so we get our facts straight across the board.

Meet the Activist Debunking Asexual Stereotypes – an interview with aro-ace model Yasmin Benoit that serves as a good roundup of the work she’s been doing to increase visibility and take apart misconceptions.

Who is Allowed to Speak Their Pain? Demon Slayer, Empathy, and Nezuko – a neat articulation of the biggest criticism I’ve seen for this otherwise hyped-up show: its main female character is literally silenced by the narrative, effectively removing her agency and any part she could play in the show’s empathy-focused plot.

In Way of the Househusband, a Former Yakuza Goes Domestic – a review of the very funny and delightful manga, now out in English, with a particular focus on how it gives its scary, badass male protagonist typically feminine interests without making this the butt of the joke.

And now, dear reader, I sleep. Take care and I’ll see you next time!

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Singular Spooktacular: October ’19 Roundup

pumpkin

I’m back, baby. (As you can see, I’ve been Very Busy and taking the hiatus was 101% a good idea)

On the blog:

Queer Allegory and Queer Actuality in Every Heart a Doorway – a recording of the conference presentation I gave in September, featuring queer reading strategies, genre studies, and a gay cat.

Man of Medan: All we Have to Fear is Fear Itself (and the Ocean) – a review (split into spoiler-free and spoilery parts) of a new interactive ghost story by the makers of Until Dawn.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Portraits, Premonitions, and Pink Hair – reviews and recs, starring I Wish You All the BestIn the Way of All Flesh, and The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burgers in Los Angeles)

BONUS: my presentation on playing with tropes in Life is Strange and Until Dawn is now published as a journal paper! It’s free to read (woo! Accessible academia!) here!

Web content aplenty:

Olly “Philosophy Tube” Thorn’s latest video is a musical about queer theory and the strange politics of language that doubles as a coming out announcement, and yes, it’s exactly as fascinating, enlightening, and emotional as that sounds. It spoke to me quite personally and made me both laugh and tear up a little, as well as very nicely summing up some complex concepts like “queer time” and the evolution of terms and theories.

It’s always a good time to remember Ghost Stories – but how exactly did this legendary, meme-tastic dub come to be? This video goes through it in detail, including an interview with the scriptwriter who so famously Went Off.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with Dominic Noble’s ‘Lost in Adaptation’ series – there are a lot of neat individual episodes, but I’m going to shine a particular light on the multi-part deep dive he does into the Scott Pilgrim comics. It did a great job of reminding me what I loved about the two different works, and articulating how the comics and the movie diverge to be two quite thematically different stories.

And, at the risk of linking to every single new Lindsay Ellis video, this one is a really eloquent look at the performative progressive thread running through – and sometimes informing the creation of – a lot of the live-action Disney remakes.

Writing Romance for Asexual and Aromantic Readers – author Rosiee Thor lays out some guidelines for romance writers who want to untie their stories from some of the traditional assumptions about love and sex, making them more hospitable to readers who Just Aren’t As Into That but still enjoy the genre.

Queer Identity, Mental Health and Finding Connections with In the Way of All Flesh – hey, you know this book! I just reviewed it! In this post, the author talks The Sapphic Book Club through her process and how she set out to write a mentally ill lesbian protagonist whose mental illness and lesbian identity weren’t tied up in one another.

Indigenous Teens are Using TikTok to Call Out Racism in Australia – TikTok is a platform that fosters a consistently baffling meme culture, but it’s good to see it’s also potentially a force for good… as well as an outlet for frustration through good old dark humour.

Siren Seeking Sailor – a great, poetic piece on The Asexual that’s both neat metaphor and neat writing from the perspective of a famous “monster”.

And it’s new anime time again! As always, give AniFem’s thoughts a look. 

Bonus fun: this little animation Jess made of one of my protagonists! No one will be meeting her for a while (least of all because she’s not from the book I’m supposed to be writing, you know, for work. Oops) but I want to show her off!

And that wraps us up for the month! I plan to be to back to my regular schedule now, so I will be seeing you soon with more Hashtag Content. Take care, everyone!

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Fight, O Maidens: August ’19 Roundup (and Hiatus Notice)

Maidens 1

Well, it had to happen eventually–I’ve been running this blog for more than five years and I’ve never taken an official break except when I was travelling. The closest I came was dropping from one post a week to one post every two weeks, a change I decided on when I was getting into the thick of my undergrad degree. Though it’s also a change I promptly ignored, since I still committed to doing episodic reviews every week for a good portion of that year, which… actually meant I was doing even more writing than usual. Honest to goodness, how did I pump out a post per week? Obviously not all of them were very good, but still, the sheer output impresses me. Oh, the unstoppable vigour of youth… or something…

The long and short of it is, my blogging practices have changed over time. It used to be that I could stack up a bunch of posts in a queue, often a couple of month’s worth, and be sitting pretty waiting for them to go live. Recently, I’ve been… I think the official term is “flying by the seat of my pants”, at least more than before; looking at WordPress’ little calendar and seeing it empty and wondering where another two weeks went, catching myself thinking “crap, I need to come up with something to fill up the blog queue”. I’ve also become way pickier and more self-conscious of what I post, which means more drafts than ever before are being discarded since I’m not happy with them, and I either send them back for reworking or just never let them see the light of Internet day. It means I’m quite proud of what I do post, and these posts are often longer, more in-depth, and more polished. This skew towards quality over quantity–the reverse of my early blogging days–is a positive one, but it does mean that a lot more work and time is going into this thing, and I’m forcing myself to admit that it’s not always time that I have.

So I’m taking a break. Oof, it hurts to do it, but I think it will be for the best. Let’s say there will be no posts over September, which will give me time to come up with ideas at my leisure and stack them in the queue rather than frantically hammering articles out because I feel I ought to. I’d like to get back to the post-per-fortnight schedule after this holiday, since I enjoy the consistency of it, but we shall see. A month can be a long time, but it can also vanish out from underneath you the moment you look away. What do you mean semester has started again? What do you mean I have to give a presentation in three weeks? What do you mean we’re already at episode eight of the anime season??

everything is on fire

…you see where I’m at.

In any case, dear reader, I will see you on the flipside. And of course I’ll still be dicking around on Twitter if you want to hear from me.

On the ol’ blog

Community Season 3: A Study in Weirdness and Parody, Made With Love – what exactly made the sitcom’s third and most buck-wild season so impactful, fun, and interesting?

O Maidens in Your Savage Season and “Not Like Other Girls” Syndrome – how Sonezaki’s plotline seems to be unpacking the toxic, isolating trope of “the bookish heroine versus the bitchy girls” that crops up in YA and other teen media.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Broadswords, Birdwatching, and Band Geeks – a look at Once & FutureSilhouette of a Sparrow, and This Song is (Not) For You.

Bonus! I recommended a novel for every day of the month over on Tweeter. I swear I have read and enjoyed more than 30 books throughout my long love of reading, but this was sometimes very difficult. It also helped me realise how many books I haven’t read that I still want to, so if you have any recs of your own based on this palette of my tastes, feel free to shoot them my way!

Around the web

Let’s dive into some video content…

In the wake of the movie trailer, this has been doing the rounds–it makes for a very neat introduction to the musical Cats, beloved and baffling to many including me (this actually serves to clarify some plot/character beats that I hadn’t even picked up on with the many times I watched the filmed version as a kid!).

So… how ’bout that Game of Thrones thing that wrapped up a little while ago? In an hour-long deep dive, Lindsay Ellis lays out and picks apart what exactly went so pear-shaped about the end up the series. Her first video looked at this more broadly, but this one looks at individual character arcs (which is fair enough, considering the show was supposedly character-driven…).

This is much more poignant than the clickbaity thumbnail might suggest. A retrospective on AnoHana nearly ten years after it aired, part analysis and part personal story of the show’s emotional and cathartic impact. What does it tell us about grief? About play and childhood and the mirage of maturity? About art and the different conversations that it can have with each viewer? Am I crying about AnoHana again? Yes, yes I am.

Again, goofy title card aside, this is an intriguing look at the genre of “world making” games that, in fact, have you laying down infrastructure on a world that already exists. Do these games unintentionally come from, and encourage, a colonial mindset? Even if it’s just in a fantasy space? There is no easy answer, but it’s certainly an interesting thing to think about.

Kase-san and Queer Thirst: Depicting Sexuality in a “Pure” Yuri Manga – how good ol’ Kase-san tells a story about teen sexuality without sexualising its teenaged cast.

Golden Age Superheroes Were Shaped by the Rise of Fascism – an important, and artful, reminder of the origins of many of our favourite superheroes, and that statements like “we’re trying to keep politics out of comics” are inherently false and harmful.

The Post-War Kids: Anime After Annihilation – Dominic looks at a few iconic series and films (from Kids on the Slope to AKIRA to Astro Boy) that respond to the massive cultural shift that occurred in Japan after it was bombed and occupied by the US military, exploring post-nuclear tension and the building of a new national identity through sci-fi, music, and many other art expressions.

And there goes August. As always, take care, and I’ll see you on the other side of the hiatus!

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You’re a Gem: July ’19 Roundup

Lustrous (1)

It occurs to me that I’ve put out two big posts in a row that essentially amount to “I relate strongly to/connect with these characters who get the crap kicked out of them in their respective narratives”, and just in case anyone was getting worried, I want you all to know that I am okay. Just much more aware of some self-worth issues that are bubbling away at the back of my brain, these days, and trying to work through them through the (comparatively) safe lens of stories. This is, after all, one of the great appeals of fiction: it can reflect your own image back to you in sometimes unexpected ways, and that refracted image can throw things unexpectedly into perspective. Maybe this uplifts you, maybe this depresses you, maybe it provides a mix of both. Maybe it reminds you to take better care of yourself. Maybe it just gives you the little thrill of being able to say “same”.

Maybe I’m just feeling sappy–in the wake of the arson attack on Kyoto Animation this month, there’s been an outpouring of pieces (short and longform) about how the studio’s various works impacted people, whether that meant making them feel seen, making them feel happy when they were in a bad place, making them appreciate the beauty of everyday things, or just making them laugh. Out of the tragedy comes a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of art. Engaging with and thinking about stories can save people, whether in great life-altering ways or smaller, seemingly less consequential ones. At the heart of it this, I think, is why I’m so passionate about stories. This stuff matters, you know? I probably don’t need to tell you this if you’re following this blog diligently enough to be reading the ramble at the beginning of the monthly roundup, but it bears repeating.

Take care out there, everyone–of yourselves, of each other, and of the stories close to your heart, and let them take care of you.

On the blog:

Land of the Lustrous as a Story About Burnout – musings on Phos as Millennial icon (this got a ludicrous amount of views in its first week, and is maybe now one of my most-read posts. I’m glad it resonated with so many people! But please, if it resonated with you, go take a nap!!)

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Snow, Shapeshifters, and Spooky Castles – three more reviews, this time taking a look at Girls Made of Snow and Glass, The Brilliant Death, and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.

Around the web:

The Ultimate Fantasy of Dragon Age: Inquisition is Being Listened to by a Man – an examination of the romantic appeal of Cullen, whose wish-fulfilment ultimately lies in the fact that he’s Just A Good Sweet Boy who genuinely respects the opinions and choices of the female player-character… a low bar, but one that many straight men fictional or otherwise tend not to clear.

Through Doorways: Portal Fantasies as a Means of Queer Escape and Queer Hope – author A.J. Hackworth reflects on Every Heart a Doorway and how it taps into the escapist appeal the portal fantasy genre had for her and a lot of other queer kids.

The Silence of Peggy Carter – another look at how Captain America’s emotional resolution in Avengers: Endgame fell short, with a specific focus on how this “happy ending” robs Peggy of the agency she’d had throughout the series.

Nichijou and the Everyday Epics of High School Girls – a celebration of the bizarre sitcom’s knack for capturing the authentic teen girl experience, and telling a sweet story of friendship amidst the surreal shenanigans.

SARAZANMAI Imagines a Better Future for Queer Love Stories – an analysis of how Ikuhara’s latest delightfully bizarre project addresses and rejects a lot of the negative tropes that can follow queer characters and romances around in anime.

(I know I end up linking a post of Vrai’s basically every month. I know. They just write the good words and I want to share those words around)

Masculine Bisexuality in Games: Past, Present, and Future – a look at the elusive bi male character in the video game medium, and the tropes (and technological limitations) they’ve historically been trapped in on the rare case that they do appear.

Eugene Lee Yang is Making the Internet More Gay – an interview with content creator and BuzzFeed escapee Eugene “Try Guys” Lee Yang, a dude who I have a lot of respect for in his creative abilities, work ethic, and general coolness.

And of course it was premiere review season! I’m keeping an eye on O Maidens in Your Savage Season, given, and the magical-girl-mecha weirdness of GRANBELM, which is the most new stuff I’ve been excited by in a while. How about you guys?

That wraps us up once again. Take care out there, everyone, and take care of each other.

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